Minerals are as essential to bodily functions as are vitamins, being involved in every single reaction that takes place throughout the day. A severe deficiency of any mineral will cause unpleasant symptoms and bodily malfunctions. Multiple deficiencies, however slight, can cause chronic problems.
But not all mineral sources are equal. Some forms of minerals are not only very badly absorbed, but can also cause problems that block absorption of other nutrients, so that taking them can actually damage health. The most dramatic example of this is ferrous (iron) sulphate. This form of iron only achieves about 5% absorption into the bloodstream, but also blocks the absorption of vitamin E. In addition, it can cause intestinal irritation, producing constipation or diarrhoea, or both alternately, which in turn reduces absorption of nutrients in general. Magnesium oxide and calcium carbonate are alkaline, and for those under-producing digestive acid can be very difficult to digest. This can also reduce digestive efficiency and therefore reduce absorption of all nutrients. The list goes on; zinc oxide, manganese sulphate etc.
Amino Acid Chelates
In nature, most minerals in food are complexed with amino acids, the building blocks of protein. As the proteins are carried across the intestinal walls, the minerals are carried with them.
In recognition of this, the more quality-conscious and scientifically oriented supplement manufacturers produce minerals complexed with amino acids (amino acid chelates). Certain minerals have a particular best chelate form. In the case of zinc and chromium, this is the “picolinate” form. (Some would argue that chromium polynicotinate is slightly better.)
Magnesium and calcium
These are two minerals where yet another form is even more effective, because the chelating agent has functions that are similar to both, even when on its own, but also complexes very well with each mineral, and aids absorption both across the intestinal wall and into the cells. This chelating agent is malic acid. This will be dealt with later.
Both calcium and magnesium are important for muscle function, with calcium being required to tense the muscles and magnesium being the primary relaxation mineral. If there is a magnesium deficiency, then the muscles remain tense, causing a buildup of lactic acid and other waste products. This causes inflammation and pain.
Magnesium is also a co-factor with chromium in the body’s production and use of insulin, which controls blood sugar and therefore energy levels.
Magnesium is also involved in energy production at a more fundamental level, being involved, together with malic acid and other substances, in the production of ATP within the cells. This is the body’s energy trigger.
Magnesium is also an important factor in the transmission of nerve impulses.
Malic acid is found in some fruits, particularly apples, but is also synthesised in the human body as part of the Krebs (citric acid) cycle, a vital part of the process of energy production.
What does it do?
¨ Aids absorption of minerals, particularly magnesium and calcium.
¨ Aids in the production of ATP within cells.
¨ When muscles are exercised to exhaustion, or continually tense, or circulation is poor, a condition of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) develops. This inhibits the breakdown of glucose for energy, causing exhaustion and pain. Malic acid breaks this bottleneck.
¨ When the condition outlined in the paragraph above occurs, muscle tissue is burned as an alternative source of energy, and muscle wastage takes place. Malic acid reduces this process.
¨ Because of improved magnesium absorption and improved energy production, malic acid helps to reduce muscle cramps, further reducing pain.
¨ It has been found that in the patients with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases, there is often a high concentration of aluminium in the brain. Malic acid is a powerful detoxifier of aluminium, and could therefore probably be used as a preventative of these problems, and possibly as a partial cure.
From their general effects within the body, it is probable that malic acid and magnesium will help in the following ways:
A number of clinical studies have been carried out, using dosages of malic acid 1200mg 1-2 per day and magnesium 300mg once or twice per day. Significant pain relief usually occurs within 48 hours, with improvement increasing over time.
B) Night Cramps
It is now quite well proven that cramps while resting, particularly in bed, are almost always caused by a shortage of magnesium in the body. This can be caused by insufficient consumption or by poor absorption. Taking magnesium with malic acid overcomes the absorption problem. The dosage suggested is the same as for fibromyalgia.
A common cause of insomnia is a deficiency of two minerals, calcium and magnesium, and particularly magnesium. The subject of absorption raises its head again, and a mixture of the two minerals with malic acid is particularly good. In this form, benefits should be felt fairly quickly. To maximise absorption, the mixture is best taken on an empty stomach, and for the purpose of helping insomnia, the best time is within an hour of going to bed. Taken in this way, it is likely that benefits would be felt from the first night.
Deficiencies of magnesium and calcium are known to cause feelings of stress and “nerviness”. Supplementing is therefore likely to help.
E) Heavy exercise & sporting activity
Could magnesium and malic acid be the new creatine for athletes and bodybuilders? Creatine works by increasing ATP production. Malic acid and magnesium also do this, but also increase energy production from glucose and slow lactic acid buildup. Possibly a very useful athletes’ supplement.
As magnesium is an important factor in the transmission of nerve impulses, a well-absorbed magnesium supplement could improve reaction times and therefore help performance in ball games and other activities in which fast reactions are important.
Heavy physical activity causes sweating, which causes loss of minerals, including magnesium. Supplementation after workouts may prove to be helpful.
F) Reduction of High Blood Pressure
This combination could prove to be the most effective aid yet discovered for the reduction of high blood pressure. We theorise that it might help for two reasons:
¨ Magnesium deficiency is one reason for high blood pressure, partly because it causes muscle cramps in artery walls.
¨ The combination, or malic acid on its own, increases energy production at the cellular level, even in the absence of oxygen. This should reduce the need for increased blood supply (blood carries oxygen).
This has actually been tried on a person who had suffered 30 years of extremely high blood pressure, despite all drugs or supplements. The average was 165/95, causing a series of strokes and other problems. After five days on the combination, blood pressure was 126/81. This is a dramatic drop.